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Brian Patten

(7 February 1946 / Liverpool / England)

Minister for Exams


When I was a child I sat an exam.
This test was so simple
There was no way i could fail.

Q1. Describe the taste of the Moon.

It tastes like Creation I wrote,
it has the flavour of starlight.

Q2. What colour is Love?

Love is the colour of the water a man
lost in the desert finds, I wrote.

Q3. Why do snowflakes melt?

I wrote, they melt because they fall
on to the warm tongue of God.

There were other questions.
They were as simple.

I described the grief of Adam
when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the exact weight of
an elephant's dream

Yet today, many years later,
For my living I sweep the streets
or clean out the toilets of the fat
hotels.

Why? Because constantly I failed
my exams.
Why? Well, let me set a test.

Q1. How large is a child's
imagination?
Q2. How shallow is the soul of the
Minister for exams?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Minister for Exams by Brian Patten )

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  • Joe Hughes (5/26/2014 12:25:00 PM)

    Love it.
    Fresh imagery, scintillating.
    Thanks.
    Joe Hughes on Poemhunetr and on joehughes.org'uk (Report) Reply

  • Stevie Taite (5/13/2013 1:54:00 PM)

    What a great poem about the real insignificance of exams. They don't shape us. We shouldn't let them. Furure should not rely so much of them. They do not account for all the different types of intelligence. Great poem! (Report) Reply

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